Updated: Dec 31, 2019
South India, Deep tradition, rich culture, strong people, simplicity and complexity, hot, wet, tribal and urban...HOME for me since 2004.
spent many years of my adult life, developing a professional and a personal experience in this city. a city that grew up to be a metro and refuses to act as one. its like a mega village.
Coming to Chennai you need to know your way and preferably have someone who consider himself local, knows his way around, otherwise the city may not be so welcoming with what some people may call "Difficult weather" (not for us) , traffic and too many centres ...
I really owe the people of Chennai and Tamilnadu a big respect, first for their enormous hearts and smiles, their deep eyes and their simple yet strong lessons of life they have taught me.
Being a proud Tamilian, I would like list below my favourite routine of the city in case you come across.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Shala by Ravi and Srimathy
An open space, nestled on a Roof top in the beautiful green RA Puram neighbourhood on the banks of the Adyar river. while the space is covered from the sun it offers a great warm (more like very hot) south India breeze, coconut tree views , sounds of tropical birds and smells of Agrabatti (incense), South Indian sambar breakfast all mixed into the waking up city..
the space is carrying the "Ashtanga" name and tradition but it is a centre for a versatile community of people across all ages and practices. you are welcome to do your practice or just wait for Ravi or Srimathy to attend to you and tailor you with self practice.
in such a beautiful and simple way the space works all mornings and afternoon and is a home for many.
Once you have done your morning practice, turn right to CP Rama Swami road and look for Sangitha Restaurant who offer the best EVER "Degree Coffee" (South Indian filter coffee)... make sure you are asking for separate sugar ;-) .... and eat some idly or dosa for energy.
I can go on and on about the food in Chennai, many have spoken about it and you can find online plenty of links... I will touch here just the very few who will leave you with a signature experience.
tucked away in the back of a building that looks abandoned hide a JEM, a family run restaurant, the owner (Japanese) and his wife (Tamil) have been in city forever and running a home cooking unique kitchen with amazing fresh ingredients.
Its one of a kind experience to dine with them.
note that unlike other restaurants in the city, this one will be open early and close early as the fresh food finished.
No 37, Kauvery Complex, 96, Nungambakkam High Rd, Nungambakkam, Chennai, 600034 098400 59852
MAHA MUDRA - ISHA LIFE
Veg South Indian
Inspired by the ISHA Ashram life this one offer a versatile veg South Indian manu that is different from the usual "idly, dosa wotels" (restaurants) and has wholesome and healthy ingredients in a nice centre that has a lot to offer from ayurvedic massage to Yoga and shopping .
Old No. 50 New, No. 117, Luz Church Rd,Mylapore, Chennai, 600004
044 4353 5555
South India is a Mecca for amazing light and beautiful fabrics, from Lungis, towels, sarees and many more you can stack up an amazing light collection of fabrics with the multi use for Yoga classes, savasana, beach, dress up ...etc
My favourite stack up place...first because its next to Kapaleeshwarar Temple (known as Mylapore Tank), not that this is the most beautiful temple, Tamilnadu has many amazing temples, but this one is in the heart of Mylapore, the ancient brahmin quarter of the city, you can feel the majesty of the space within all the chaos around.
plenty of temple shops to buy Malas and Deitys, amazing book stores and off course RASI SILKs.
When you enter Rasi, go up to the 2nd floor, Where mens Dhoti's are, and ask for some Shiva Towels .
No.1,Sannadhi St,Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004, 044 4900 7300
HAED MASSAGE & HAIRCUT
In India there are way more man saloon the ladies saloon, at least on the visable surface. the MAN Saloons are simple mostly "non A/C" shops that you can treat yourself to a "Shave", Haicut" or the Cherry on the pie "HEAD MASSAGE"
I strongly recomend to try all of the above and in that order.
The place is : Saloon Oddissey 61, Perumal Koil Thottam, Ramakrishna Nagar, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600028, India https://goo.gl/maps/RAti5qfesx961ZA28
a wide selection of hand made arts, crafts, cosmetics, Wellness and spirituallity and many more, all designed by the inspiring people of the South Indian community "Auroville" 3 hours south of Chennai, a perfect place to stack on value gifts that carry India in each and every one of them with a very contemporary angle.
"Both shops below worth visiting , the later is way cheaper but less variety "
Auroville Shop: Khader Nawaz Khan Rd.
Aesthetics Shop : 86, Radhakrishnan Salai 6th Street, Krishnapuram, Mylapore